TEA BOXES AND TEXTILE DESIGN
Officine Saffi Ceramic Arts Gallery will be presenting the first solo show in Italy by Robert Cooper (Sheffield, UK, 1949).
The exhibition presents a wide range of themes by this ceramic artist of consolidated renown: he has been dedicated many international exhibitions, both solo and group shows, and his works are present in important collections all over the world.
The exhibition offers an ideal opportunity to learn more about Robert Cooper’s artistic approach, in particular by means of the “Tea Caddies” series, with printed motifs and other forms of decoration.
Robert Cooper’s collage-type style that he applies to the production of his ceramics, with layers of screen-printed images and surfaces onto which other motifs are pressed, inspired the gallery’s decision to present Cooper’s tea caddies together with designer textiles. The spaces of the gallery will be hosting some of the finest examples of artistic textiles from the Alberto Levi Gallery, creating an attractive series of references and harmonies, suggesting new narratives and intriguing visual scenarios. The Alberto Levi Gallery, Milan, is specialized in tapestries and carpets, in particular creations by Jurgen Dahlmanns and carpets in the Acquasilk series.
This combination is described by the title of the exhibition, Tea Boxes and Textile Design – Ibridazioni Narrative.
For Robert Cooper, stories are almost his “raw materials”: he is fascinated by the life of objects and the tales that they incorporate, and he has made then the focal point of his artistic approach. Every object or fragment, in his view, is permeated by a preceding life and function. Therefore, as a starting-point for his work, he used found objects of varying origin, such as clays, oxides and glazes left over from his lessons (and for which he has developed a specific method of firing), mass-media printed images, pieces of preceding works, and fragments of pottery found on the banks of the River Thames.
Robert Cooper assembles and blends these found materials using a slow, meticulous process, creating a new object capable of telling new stories. He interacts with these small treasures from everyday life, which often suggest and determine the theme of his work. His pieces are the result of many superimposed layers of life, created by a procedure by means of which he takes possession of the objects and reinterprets them.
Cooper applies screen-printed images to his works, as well as other printing techniques and discarded packaging materials. The found object is rescued from a destiny of oblivion and is given a place in the realm of art.
The artist often reworks his pieces several times, even when they could be considered as complete, firing them over and over again.
On the surfaces of his ceramic pieces, he applies glazes and slips, and continues working on the decoration with a spontaneous technique, applying layers of glaze, screen-printing, or transferring photographic images to the clay.
The artist desires to have complete control over his work, but at the same time he accepts the possibility of chance events, and actually encourages them within his creative procedure. The introduction of unpredictable effects in the final pieces – the objects that he uses are old and fragile, and so they are subject to unexpected changes – is an essential part of his artistic process. His works are forever suspended between a feeling of power and fragility; delicate, but with a physical presence that has a powerful effect on the surrounding space.
On Friday 17, Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 January 2014, Robert Cooper will lead a workshop at OS Lab (for information and enrolment: firstname.lastname@example.org), enabling participants to find out more about his decorative techniques.
Officine Saffi is an organization that includes the Officine Saffi Ceramic Arts Gallery, the OS Lab workshop, Milan, and the magazine La Ceramica in Italia e nel Mondo. Officine Saffi is dedicated to promoting ceramic arts and design, by providing and publishing information for this sector, and encouraging the use, collection and production of ceramic objects in all their various forms.